Is Using Your Phone for Navigation as Bad as Texting?
By CHLOE CITRON
Today’s drivers steer toward their cell phones and away from maps to get them from place to place by using popular navigation apps such as Waze, Google Maps and MapQuest. However, some consider navigation apps a form of distracted driving that can possibly be just as dangerous as texting.
Waze, a popular app for “outsmarting traffic,” helps drivers avoid heavy traffic, road construction, and delays by allowing drivers to report road conditions. This reporting along with checking for route updates requires drivers to use their cell phones while driving. Looking at the screen prevents the driver from concentrating on the road–the same concern that arises when drivers text. Distracted driving is defined as the practice of driving a motor vehicle while engaged in another activity, typically one that involves the use of a cellular phone or other electronic device. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 421,000 people were injured in car crashes in 2012 that involved distracted driving–over 3,000 of those accidents were fatal.
In New York, improper use of a cell phone while driving can result in a 5 point penalty to your license. The law prohibits anyone from using a portable electronic device while driving, with some exceptions.
Many Jericho students use Waze to navigate because they see it as more helpful than dangerous. Senior and new driver Matt S. said, “Both texting and navigation apps take your eyes off the road, but ultimately navigation apps are safer because they are a quick glance to see where you are going.” Senior Perri S. has a similar outlook, “Waze and other navigation apps speak to you and have clear lines to follow as opposed to texting which requires you to focus more on the letters you are typing and the message you are trying to send.” She also added that Waze gives the easiest route to follow with the least amount of traffic, making it her app of choice. Multiple students, including junior Matthew M., also agree that “texting involves taking your eyes off the road and taking your hands off the wheel, while navigation allows you to listen to the directions instead.”
Senior Joey L. feels differently. “I think using navigation apps is equally as bad as texting while driving because you’re constantly looking at your phone to make sure you’re following the route. The only difference between using navigation apps and texting is that with navigation apps, you don’t always have to take your hands off the wheel, and while texting, your hands are off the wheel and your eyes are off the road. Even though they have some differences, they both distract the driver,” he said.
High School Librarian Ms. Ryder recalls that before the use of navigation apps, drivers would read a real map which she feels is even more distracting. “We used to read maps and look away from the road constantly. It was very confusing because you had to figure out where you were on the map and what streets were coming up and it required a lot of looking away from the road. I used to take notes on where I was going on a notepad, which also was distracting. These apps are much better because they take a lot less time to use and only require a quick glance to figure out directions,” Ryder said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines include recommendations “to limit the time a driver must take his eyes off the road to perform any task to two seconds at a time and twelve seconds total.” Senior Matt S. adds that “Drivers should just use common sense and take precaution when using navigation apps in order to minimize risk and make the road a safer place for every driver.”